SATURDAY, 25 SEPTEMBER 2021
“Building resilience through hope – to recover from COVID-19, rebuild sustainably, respond to
the needs of the planet, respect the rights of
people and revitalize the United Nations” Introduction
#TheBahamas, September 26, 2021 – Esteemed Colleague Heads of State and Heads of Government, Distinguished Delegates, Ladies and Gentlemen;
Secretary-General, Antonio Guterres;
President of the General Assembly, Foreign Minister Abdulla Shahid of the Maldives:
On September 16th, Bahamian citizens took to the polls to make their voices heard. It is an honour to meet with you fewer than ten days after this peaceful exercise of the democratic process.
I wish to extend congratulations to the
Maldives, a sister Small Island Developing State, on their election to the helm of this General Assembly. Know that you will find The Bahamas to be a strong, engaged and thoughtful partner for the road ahead.
We also congratulate Secretary-General Gutteres on his re-election to a second term, and wish him every success.
Colleagues, we are meeting at a most extraordinary time. We come here from different corners of the earth, with our theme — “building resilience through hope” – reflecting our shared determination to pivot from crisis to opportunity.
These crises are inter-connected and multifaceted, and need a global response. We must collaborate to end the Covid-19 pandemic and address public health issues.
We must co-operate to mitigate the effects of climate change.
And access to development financing must be equitable and fair.
An inadequate response to these issues will have dire consequences for the global economy.
Collaborating to End the Pandemic
The world has changed enormously since we first learned about the COVID-19 virus.
This crisis made abundantly clear what has always been true: we’re all in this together.
In every country, we have lost loved ones. We have seen our healthcare workers battle bravely. We have contended with disruption, uncertainty, and grief.
We have benefited from extraordinary cooperation and achievements in science, but we also had to contend with misinformation and disinformation, and insufficient attempts to curb bad actors propagating the same. Bad information has flowed across borders, undermining public health and public trust.
The pandemic has been very difficult for countries like mine. We face an extraordinary need for new resources in health and education and housing just as our economy is contracting dramatically.
Our inter-connected world means that we will only be safe when all countries, including mine, have the tools needed to fight this virus.
This requires the equitable distribution of vaccines. That includes distribution to Small Island Developing States, who are not manufacturers. Stockpiling for self-preservation is a fallacy.
You will only be safe when we are all safe!
I wish to thank the Government and People of the United States for their donations of vaccines to The Bahamas and the wider Caribbean region.
This gift, alongside donations received previously from India, China, Antigua & Barbuda, and Dominica, will save many Bahamian lives. This is in addition to the ongoing support of PAHO, CARPHA and the COVAX facility and the regional collaboration among CARICOM countries.
But this is still not enough. We need more. Our demand for vaccines has significantly outstripped supply.
Along with vaccines, it is important that safe treatments and therapeutics, are made accessible and designated as public goods. We need to fortify critical global supply chains, and distribution mechanisms, so that we can win this battle, and be better prepared for the next one. You will only be safe, when we are all safe! The Bahamas joins those reiterating the need to fully fund the ‘Access to COVID-19 Tools Accelerator’ and its COVAX facility. And we reiterate our alignment with CARICOM’s call for continued high-level engagement to urgently address access to vaccines.
When vaccines are deployed to reduce transmission, everyone is made safer – not just the direct recipient. We can, by doing so, reduce the opportunities for new and more dangerous variants to emerge. This virus is global and requires a global response. COP26 Matters/ Disasters Response
Colleagues, even before COVID-19 shut down my country’s borders, we were dealing with a catastrophic shock to our economy and our country.
Two years ago this month, one of the strongest storms ever recorded in the Atlantic caused catastrophic damage to our islands of Abaco and Grand Bahama.
Hurricane Dorian was strengthened by waters that were well above average temperatures; the earth’s changing climate means that hurricanes like Dorian linger longer and cause more damage.
The devastation caused by this storm is part of our country’s landscape; the physical and emotional wreckage are still with us.
Recently I spoke with a woman who lost her husband and her three children in the storm. Every rainfall is a reminder of the horror. How can we continue to do nothing in the face of such tragedy?
The very worst thing about Dorian is our sense of foreboding – our sense that this hurricane, which took so much from so many – is only the beginning.
None of us believe this is a once-in-a-generation storm. Instead, we know it is a nightmare that could easily recur – tomorrow, next week, next month.
To any leader who believes we still have plenty of time to address climate change, I invite you to visit Abaco and Grand Bahama.
For island nations such as ours, climate change is here. And is a real and present danger.
Before Hurricane Dorian in 2019, we faced hurricanes: in 2015, in 2016, and in 2017. We cannot survive this “new normal”.
Thus, we are not here to call for measured steps. We are here to say that big and radical change is the only response that can save our country. We are out of time.
We stand with CARICOM countries and Small Island Developing States to remind the world that those who are hit hardest by the impact of climate change, are the least responsible.
The recent Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) Report warned that avoiding the worst outcomes requires immediate action; this is, as the Secretary-General noted, a ‘Code Red’ moment.
Our countries disproportionately bear the burden of the “Recovery Trap”, in which we attempt to rebuild to the tune of billions – billions we never had, even before COVID.
Colleagues, in a few short weeks, we will meet in Glasgow, Scotland.
The 26th Climate Change Conference cannot be like the twenty-five that preceded it – we cannot pretend that incremental change is sufficient. We cannot set goals we have no intention of meeting. We cannot keep postponing the change we need for countries like mine to survive.
If we are the serious leaders these times require, we must raise our ambitions, and make real commitments to cut emissions.
We must make real progress on bridging the divides in investment, and access-to-technology and skills, especially in areas relevant to climate mitigation and adaptation.
We must strengthen technical assistance for creating, nationally-determined contribution (NDC) commitments, along with commensurate ‘implementation financing’.
We must give teeth and substance to the mechanism for loss and damage if it is to be a meaningful tool for supporting fair recovery, and not simply an exercise in defining and highlighting disaster risk.
The Bahamas calls for greater climate financing and the need for more engagement and progress on a Climate Investment Platform.
And, as a matter of priority, more innovative financing and debt solutions are needed, including debt for climate adaptation swaps. We also look forward to the capitalization of a Caribbean Resilience Fund. We also need adequate resourcing and timely access to the ‘Green Climate Fund’ and the ‘Climate Finance Accelerator’.
In our just-concluded campaign, we called for new renewable energy initiatives in our own country. We are going to build structural and economic resilience, in a green recovery, with plans to invest in climate-smart infrastructure and environmental protection.
The Bahamas will lead on wetland and ocean preservation, and we will seek re-election to the International Maritime Organization. We look forward to the Biodiversity Conference
next month; we are committed to the successful conclusion of negotiations towards an international treaty to conserve marine bio-diversity. Advancing an MVI/ Affordable, Accessible Development Financing
Colleagues, the compounding impact of economic, environmental, and now public health shocks, means that access to affordable finance will be the real driver of progress in the near and long term.
The global development financing gap for meeting Sustainable Development Goals by
2030, estimated in 2019 to be $2.5 trillion, is only increasing.
Today we reiterate our country’s support for the inclusion of a Multi-dimensional Vulnerability Index in the decision-making of international financial institutions, and the international donor community.
On a related front, we believe that access to the global financial system and tax cooperation should not be undermined: by ad hoc and consistently shifting and arbitrary goal posts, and threats of exclusion from the global economy.
Financial Services is a crucial component of the Bahamian economy. We see an indispensable role for the UN in leveraging its universal jurisdiction for greater oversight of global antimoney laundering, de-risking and tax cooperation matters.
On a separate note, I wish to convey The Bahamas’ rejection of the ongoing economic blockade of our sister Caribbean nation of Cuba.
As I conclude, I recall the words of our nation’s first Prime Minister, Sir Lynden Pindling, as he stood here 48 years ago this month, on the occasion of our nation’s accession to the United Nations.
He spoke about the journey of our people, from slavery to colonialism to sovereign independence.
He spoke of our country’s wish to be neither dominated nor coerced, and our wish to build friendships with nations who respected our freedom.
He could not have foreseen at that time the challenges we face today, with intensifying hurricanes and a deadly virus that has left no nation untouched. But he saw already that “no nation is an island unto itself” and spoke of the interdependence of all countries. That interdependence has never been clearer.
Rest assured, colleagues, that in The Bahamas you will find a trusted partner, committed to moving forward on our collective goals for sustainable development, security, and peace.
CARPHA Team undertakes Assessment of Guyana’s National Surveillance System for Non-communicable Diseases
October 14, 2021 – The Caribbean Public Health Agency (CARPHA) conducted a technical mission to Guyana from September 22nd – 25th, 2021 to undertake site visits as a part of an ongoing assessment of six (6) Member States’ systems for the national surveillance of non-communicable diseases (NCDs) and their risk factors. This activity was implemented in collaboration with the Ministry of Health Guyana through an Agence Française de Développement (AFD) – funded project.
The aim of the assessment s to provide evidence in support of the development of a Regional Surveillance System for NCDs, a priority under the regional health framework Caribbean Cooperation in Health IV (2016-2025).
During the mission, the CARPHA technical team reviewed the capacity of existing surveillance mechanisms in Guyana to collect, analyse and report on the NCDs and risk factor indicators proposed for the regional surveillance system. These indicators were recommended by a multi-stakeholder meeting series convened in 2020 under the AFD project, which reviewed global, regional, and sub-regional mandates, targets and practices in surveillance for the prevention and control of NCDs.
The CARPHA Team along with senior officials from the Ministry of Health conducted visits to two (2) health centres, the National Cancer Registry, Ministry of Health Surveillance, and Statistics Unit. The results from the overall assessment will be presented to the Ministry of Health Guyana and will also be reviewed alongside results from similar assessments in Anguilla, Aruba, Jamaica, St. Vincent and the Grenadines, and Suriname to inform the finalisation of the regional surveillance system design through a regional stakeholder meeting.
The regional NCDs surveillance system would facilitate the reporting and availability of data to inform policy development, planning, and tracking of progress towards meeting for targets NCDs at Regional and National levels.
Through funding from the Agence Française de Développement (AFD), CARPHA is leading the Region in Strengthening Strategic Intelligence and Partnership Approaches to prevent and control NCDs and Strengthen Regional Health Security in the Caribbean. This project, signed in 2019 with a value of €1,500,000.00, demonstrates the commitment of the Government of France and the French people to supporting the public health priorities of the Caribbean Community through CARPHA.
More information on the Project can be found at: https://www.carpha.org/Projects/Ongoing-Projects/Strengthening-Strategic-Intelligence-and-Partnership-Approaches-To-Prevent-and-Control-NCDs-and-Strengthen-Regional-Health-Security-In-The-Caribbean
World Sight Day: Love Your Eyes
Port of Spain, Trinidad and Tobago. 14 October, 2021. In the Caribbean, the leading causes of blindness are glaucoma, cataract and diabetic retinopathy (a complication of diabetes). According to the Vision Atlas, 6.2 million persons in the Caribbean were reported to have vision loss, with an estimated 260,000 persons reported to be blind in 2020.
Information gathered from eighteen (18) Caribbean countries (Antigua and Barbuda, Bahamas, Barbados, Bermuda, Belize, Cuba, Dominica, Dominican Republic, Grenada, Guyana, Haiti, Jamaica, Puerto Rico, St. Kitts and Nevis, St. Lucia, St. Vincent and the Grenadines, Suriname and Trinidad and Tobago) with a population of 44 million, showed that the crude prevalence of blindness was 0.60%, and the prevalence of all vision loss was 13.20%. Many of the persons affected were females at 52%.
Global statistics reveal that for 2020, a total of 596 million persons had distance vision impairment worldwide, of this number 43 million were blind. Projections for 2050, indicate that an estimated 885 million persons may be affected by distance vision impairment with 61 million expected to experience blindness.
CARPHA’s vision for the Caribbean is a region where the health and wellness of the people are promoted and protected from disease, injury and disability, thereby enabling human development in keeping with the belief that the health of the Region is the wealth of the Region.
Although there are no projects that directly address vision impairment, CARPHA in collaboration with its public health partners is implementing initiatives to address risk factors such as unhealthy diets, use of harmful substances and poor physical activities. This in turn, will help reduce the risk of disability due to complications associated with poor blood sugar and blood pressure management.
Efforts to improve the standards of care for diabetes through the implementation of the CARPHA Guidelines on the Management of Diabetes in Primary Care in the Caribbean, and training of health care workers from the CARPHA Member States will also contribute to the prevention of vision impairment and blindness due to diabetes.
Access to eye care services can reduce visual impairment. CARPHA urges Member States to strengthen health systems to improve eye health services with emphasis on reaching the vulnerable and those most in need. Governments should commit to integrating eye care into the universal health care system.
World Sight Day is celebrated annually on the second Thursday in October. The focus of the day is to bring awareness to blindness and vision impairment as a major public health issue and blindness prevention.
The 2021 commemoration observed on 14th October, seeks to encourage persons to think about the ‘importance of their own eye health.’
Our eyes are working hard during the COVID-19 pandemic. We have been indoors, in front of our screens, and probably missed our eye test appointments. Now more than ever, we need to protect and prioritize our eyesight. There are simple things you can do for yourself to prevent the development of serious eye issues:
- Take screen breaks for at least five minutes every hour
- Spend time outside. Increased outdoor time can reduce the risk of myopia (near-sightedness)
- Get an eye test. A complete eye exam can detect eye conditions such as glaucoma before it has an effect on your sight. The earlier an eye condition is identified, the easier it is to treat.
- Eat a healthy balanced diet and engage in physical activity. These are crucial steps in maintaining a healthy weight, controlling obesity, and preventing diseases such as diabetes, all of which can impact eye health.
- If you have diabetes, you should have your eyes checked every year
Your sight cannot be taken for granted. It is time to LOVE YOUR EYES!
RBDF Congratulates Retired Commander Defence Force on National Honour Award
During a ceremony at the British Colonial Hilton Hotel, West Bay Street, Commodore Smith was presented with the Order of Distinction within the Commonwealth of The Bahamas, by Governor-General, the Most Honorable Sir Cornelius A. Smith. Also in attendance were his daughter, Mrs. Italia Seymour, and the Commander Defence Force, Commodore Dr. Raymond King.
Commodore Smith was one of sixteen other deserving individuals recognized on National Heroes Day for the vast contributions they made to the development of the country. The first Bahamian Officer to be appointed as Commander Defence Force, he is the longest-serving Commodore to serve this office from 1983 to 1997.
Throughout his military career, he received numerous awards and accolades, and his career in public life spanned over forty years, and on September 19, 2014, an RBDF Legend Class Vessel bearing his name was commissioned. The Royal Bahamas Defence Force is truly grateful for the devoted services of Commodore Smith to the organization and his country.
Commander Defence Force, Commodore Dr. Raymond King extends congratulations on his behalf of the members of his Executive Command, Officers, Senior Enlisted, and Junior Enlisted members of the Royal Bahamas Defence Force, to Commodore Retired Leon Smith, on his great accomplishment.
Header: Commodore Retired Leon Smith being presented with the Order of Distinction within the Commonwealth of The Bahamas, by Governor-General, the Most Honorable Sir Cornelius A. Smith on October 11, 2021, during a ceremony at the British Colonial Hilton Hotel, West Bay Street.
Insert: Commodore Retired Leon Smith along with recipients of the 2021 National Honours Awards on October 11, 2021, during a ceremony at the British Colonial Hilton Hotel, West Bay Street.
(RBDF Photos by Able Seaman Paul Rolle II)
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